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Tips for First-Year Teachers

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Transitioning from a teacher education program to having your own classroom for the first time can be an exciting and overwhelming experience for new professionals. To assist with the transition, here are some tips for first-year teachers provided by educators with a few years of teaching experience.

Apply what you learned in your teacher education program. Take classroom management seriously. There's great value in routines and procedures in the classroom. Start with clear classroom management structures and stand by them to develop mutual respect in the classroom.

Build relationships within your building and district. Ask trusted and experienced colleagues for advice and resources. Understand that questions demonstrate curiosity and a desire for improvement; first-year teachers are not expected to know it all. Develop a relationship with a mentor teacher, whether one is assigned to you or you identify an informal mentor. Involve yourself in the school community and get outside of your classroom. Attend school events and develop relationships with parents and other teachers. Avoid taking part in teacher gossip.

Connect with the broader profession. Join a professional association specialized for your subject area. Professional associations often provide access to practical professional development resources and fellow educators that will support your efforts in the classroom. Two examples are the National Science Teachers Association (http://www.nsta.org/) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (http://www.nctm.org/). Also investigate and follow education-oriented news sources to stay up-to-date on national conversations and hot topics.

Take care of yourself. Start simply and don't try to do it all. Realize that you will not be able to implement every program or idea during your first year. Recognize that you will not always have the answer and it is okay to admit that. As with any new role, it gets easier with time and experience.

New professionals, what other advice would you share with first-year teachers?

Marcie Schumert
Assistant Director, Career Development
Webster University, St. Louis, MO

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